Erling Haaland made it back-to-back hat-tricks as Manchester City beat Nottingham Forest 6-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday evening.
The Norwegian took his tally for the Premier League season to nine in just his fifth appearance in the competition with all three of his goals coming in the first half as Steve Cooper’s newly-promoted side just could not cope with City’s new centre-forward.
A wonderful strike from Joao Cancelo made it four before two goals by the impressive Julian Alvarez on his full Premier League debut capped the night for Pep Guardiola’s side.
The victory keeps the Premier League champions within two points of early leaders Arsenal in the table, while Nottingham Forest remain on four points.
Man City: Ederson (6), Walker (7), Stones (8), Dias (7), Cancelo (8), Rodri (8), Silva (8), Gundogan (8), Alvarez (9), Haaland (10), Foden (8)
Subs: Palmer (6), Mahrez (7), Gomez (6), De Bruyne (7), Lewis (6)
Nott’m Forest: Henderson (5), Williams (6), McKenna (6), Worrall (5), Kouyate (6), Lodi (6), Yates (5), O’Brien (6), Freuler (6), Johnson (5), Gibbs-White (5)
Subs: Awoniyi (6), Dennis (6), Colback (6), Toffolo (6), Biancone (6)
Man of the match: Erling Haaland
How Haaland and Alvarez ran riot
City were in total control from the outset with Forest content to defend deep. That tactic was always likely to be a risky approach when the opposition forward is the biggest presence in the penalty box, quicker and stronger than everyone else in it.
Haaland’s first goal came when he got to the ball first from Phil Foden’s cross and the second came not long after. Forest goalkeeper Dean Henderson’s pass only found Bernardo Silva and City succeeded in smartly working the ball to their striker once again.
Pep Guardiola made two changes to the Man City team with Ilkay Gundogan coming in for Kevin De Bruyne and Julian Alvarez replacing Riyad Mahrez.
Steve Cooper changed three of his Nottingham Forest side with Renan Lodi, Cheikhou Kouyate and Remo Freuler replacing Harry Toffolo, Steve Cook and Jesse Lingard.
This time Haaland showed his unselfish side, feeding Foden only for the ball to break back to him so that he could tap it into the net. The third was similarly straightforward. A header from near the line as he latched onto a nodded centre from John Stones.
Stones himself had seen a goal disallowed by that point – Haaland the provider – while Forest’s only opening came when Renan Lodi, making his debut following his arrival from Atletico Madrid, headed wide of the post. There was little for Forest fans to cling to.
It did not stop them singing but nor did the support stop City scoring. Cancelo’s fourth was superb, a powerful shot from the edge of the box. Alvarez’s first goal – the fifth – was deserved. It was a reward for an enterprising full debut having earlier struck the post.
His second, arrowed into the top corner with his left foot, underlined the Argentine’s vast potential and why Guardiola insists he will be comfortable resting Haaland at some point with this busy schedule. But not just yet. Not when his No 9 is in this form.
Haaland’s start in stats
- Erling Haaland has scored nine goals after five Premier League appearances, a new competition record, surpassing Mick Quinn and Sergio Aguero (both eight).
- Haaland became only the seventh player to score a hat-trick in back-to-back games in the competition and the first since Harry Kane in December 2017.
- Manchester City scored five or more goals in a Premier League game for the 32nd time under Pep Guardiola, which accounts for 14 per cent of their games under the Spaniard in the competition. It is more than twice as many such games as any other side in this time.
- Manchester City’s tally of 18 goals after five games is the most in their history at this stage of a league campaign. The last side to exceed 18 after five games in the Premier League were Manchester United in 2011-12 (21 goals).
FPL stats: Man City vs N Forest
|Goals||Haaland (3), Alvarez (2), Cancelo (1)|
|Assists||Stones, Mahrez, Bernardo, Foden|
|Bonus points||Haaland (3), Alvarez (2), Stones (1)|
Guardiola: ‘Haaland smells the box’
Speaking to BT Sport:
“I know he is happy, scoring goals, but I think what he wants is to win. The records are OK, but I’m pretty sure if we were not winning games, he would not like it.
“He has a special talent. He has an incredible sense of goal. He didn’t touch one ball, and then his first touch is a goal. He is Erling.
“He’s strong in all departments but he smells the box like nobody else. His finishing is so good. His work ethic as well is so great. We are delighted about the way he is doing it.”
Cooper: ‘This defeat won’t define us’
Speaking to BT Sport:
“First and foremost, they are an incredible team. You have to be more than perfect to succeed against them. But at the same time, I thought we were naive with the goals we gave away in the first half. We made it an even tougher task than it was at the start.
“We didn’t give up. We kept going. The massive learning curve in the game is just how ruthless the league is and particularly these teams right at the top. They are brilliant.
“A tough night. The supporters were amazing, so thank you to them. They never gave up either. We’ve got to make sure now that we draw a line under it quickly. It won’t define us.”
Nottingham Forest host Bournemouth on Saturday at 3pm, before Manchester City travel to Aston Villa on Saturday Night Football at 5.30pm – live on Sky Sports Premier League.